Tillis says ‘no’ to investigation, Burr takes a walk
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Friday blocked consideration of a bill creating a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate what happened leading up to and during the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.
Legislation to form an investigatory panel into that attack passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, with 35 House Republicans joining Democrats in backing the measure.
Friday’s procedural vote in the Senate required support from at least 10 GOP lawmakers in order to advance to debate on the proposal and end a GOP filibuster.
Only six Republicans — including Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine; Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana; and Rob Portman, of Ohio — joined with Democrats in the 54-35 vote, which needed 60 senators in agreement to move ahead. Eleven senators did not cast a vote.
Sen. Pat Toomey, (R-Pa.), was absent due to a family commitment, according to his spokesman, who said Toomey would have voted in favor of debating the legislation. He also was supportive of an amendment from Collins to address concerns about the commission’s staffing and duration.
Even with Toomey’s support, three additional GOP yes votes would have been needed to advance the bill.
In a statement after the vote, Cassidy — who also voted to convict former President Donald Trump on impeachment charges of inciting the Jan. 6 riot — said the legislation would ensure GOP lawmakers had equal involvement in an investigation that will occur even if they object.
“The investigations will happen with or without Republicans,” Cassidy said. “To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial, and focused on the facts, Republicans need to be involved.”
Other senators not voting on Friday included Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Jim Risch of Idaho, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The Senate vote was expected to occur on Thursday, but it was delayed when Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-Wis.), and other conservatives raised objections to a separate bipartisan bill seeking to boost U.S. competitiveness against China. Final votes on that bill ultimately were postponed to next week so the Senate could vote on the Jan. 6 commission legislation.
Republicans opposed to setting up a 10-member commission — which would be appointed by lawmakers from both parties and styled on the panel that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — criticized the commission’s makeup and said it was unnecessary given the other investigations underway.
“There’s no new fact about that day we need the Democrats’ extraneous commission to uncover,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), said during a floor speech Thursday.
Democrats have argued that the panel is critical to establishing a comprehensive, independent analysis that pulls together all the events leading up to the crowd of rioters storming the Capitol hallways, destroying property, and assaulting law enforcement officers who were protecting lawmakers and staffers.
“I can’t imagine anyone voting against the establishment of the commission on the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol,” President Joe Biden said ahead of the Senate vote. Read more